This is the gripping story of the rise and fall of the Roman Republic: meteoric imperial expansion enriched and corrupted the ruling aristocracy, which was then unable either to rule the vast empire effectively or to resist the challenge of popular power within Rome itself. Political tensions, enormous wealth and imperial ambition fuelled a vicious circle of competition, in which the number of players decreased as the stakes rose, until two military dynasts, Caesar and Pompeius, went to war for control of the commonwealth.
This book traces these processes in detail, but also gives more space than has been traditional to the impact of Rome’s military, cultural and economic expansion on her subjects, both in Italy and in the provinces. Historians rightly depend on the narrative histories and other writings of the Greeks and Romans themselves. But these give us largely the view from Rome, and of the upper classes; and some were written later and with hindsight. This evidence is important and is given proper consideration in this volume; but other viewpoints, those of Italian elites and provincial communities are also considered, primarily though documentary evidence.
Further, the latest archaeological research is drawn on to illustrate developments in society, religion and culture which affected much larger sections of the Mediterranean under Rome. The volume seeks to show what changes flowed from Roman rule, and how Rome itself was transformed: although the Republic failed, late republican society was a vibrant and fertile intellectual and cultural community in a phase of rapid transition, painful but brilliant.
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Brasenose College, University of Oxford, UK
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